The Plot To Undermine America’s Institutions

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Choo Choo

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REVIEW: ‘Splintered: Critical Race Theory and the Progressive War on Truth’

“O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.”  Psalms 95:6 (KJV) 

Less than a decade ago, my high school hosted a naturalization ceremony. Each time a new citizen, donned in red, white, and blue apparel, approached the stage to receive his certificate of citizenship, the rowdy crowd of hundreds of teenagers—myself among them—broke into irreverent but welcoming and patriotic chants of “USA! USA!”

Those days are long gone. National pride fell to an all-time low in 2020, with just 20 percent of American adults ages 18 to 29 saying they were “extremely proud” to be an American, according to a Gallup poll. And though the coronavirus pandemic and protests following the death of George Floyd factored into that number, the poll marked the sixth consecutive year of decline in patriotism.

The right blames this trend on progressivism and, more recently, critical race theory. But is CRT really to blame for this drastic shift in anti-American sentiment? Jonathan Butcher offers a guidebook on the subject in Splintered: Critical Race Theory and the Progressive War on Truth.

Splintered presents critical theory as a pedagogy, or a framework through which one understands the world around him. From its origins in the 19th century German academy to its application in American kindergartens, Butcher, an education fellow at the Heritage Foundation, spells out what critical pedagogy means for the future of American education.

He begins with the German Marxists, including Felix Weil, Herbert Marcuse, and Max Horkheimer, who laid the foundation for critical theory by fusing Marx’s anticapitalism and understanding of history as a persistent class struggle with the postmodernist concept of subjective truth. As a “worldview,” Butcher writes, critical theory is “meant to criticize the traditional uses of language and reason to describe the world around us.”

Critical theory found its way into American law during the 20th century. Critical legal theory claims “America’s laws are systemically oppressive and designed to keep ethnic minorities in the underclass.” If that sounds familiar, it might be because you had your TV on during the summer of 2020, when Black Lives Matter riots overwhelmed the streets of America’s largest cities.

Black Lives Matter and other left-wing groups apply the tenets of critical legal theory to every aspect of American life and culture. The result is critical race theory, which rejects America’s founding principles—individualism, the rule of law, property rights, free and open trade—and institutions, which, they say, subjugate minority Americans and uphold white supremacy.

Critical race theory is about race and power, Butcher writes. It is also about “undermining” American institutions. As “antiracist” scholar Ibram X. Kendi says, raceblindness is racism. One must actively work to dismantle laws upholding white supremacy and siphon power over to minorities.

Teachers’ union bigwigs and their Democrat allies are quick to dismiss reports of critical race theory in the classroom. Conservatives, they say, simply oppose discussing America’s racist past. This misperception comes in the face of several high-profile examples that have come to light in the past few years. Butcher provides several such cases.

One Nevada school forced students to “affirm” race-based privileges. State education departments in California, Illinois, Ohio, and elsewhere structured model ethnic studies curricula to include lessons on “power structures” and “ethnic differences between groups.” Teachers’ unions in several big cities, including Los Angeles, adopted the Black Lives Matter movement’s core principles—the destruction of the nuclear family and defunding the police among them. Some teachers assign civic engagement projects—dubbed “action civics”—that compel students to advocate for political causes, like attending gun-control rallies or writing letters to legislators on lowering the voting age. And thousands of schools teach lessons adapted from the New York Times’s controversial 1619 Project, which seeks to re-center the American founding on sla…

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